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04-01-2010
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Seasons and Shows - Is it time for a change to the fashion system?
I have read numerous articles in the past surrounding Fashion Month and the concept of seasons, and many industry professionals seem to be questioning whether the whole thing really works anymore.

The Spring/Summer shows for 2010 took place before Autumn/Winter '09 weather even had a chance to kick in, allowing high street brands to imitate the collections before the designers can even get them in-store come Spring season.

There is also the cost factor of putting on these big shows. With so much content going online, anyone can view images from the shows several hours after they happen across the world - no invite neccessary - and some designers such as McQueen are broadcasting them live online. So is it really ideal for fashionistas to jet around the world, almost killing themselves trying to fit in every show schedule combined with jet lag whilst still looking inspired and glamorous?


I'm interested in hearing other people's opinions as I will be writing a feature based on this topic and I'm a little torn, as the fantasy set-up of some of the shows is what is most inspiring, despite the impracticality of the cost.

If you could let me know how you feel about the topic, whether you've considered it before or what changes you think should be made, discuss away

I look forward to finding out how other's feel regarding the subject!

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04-01-2010
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I think the only thing that bothers me about fashion week, in all of the cities, is the fact that for some reason every designer for some odd reason already know what next season's trends are going to be; making fashion week so monotonous.

At this point, for me, fashion shows are simply the cheapest way to advertise yourself; and the one who can attract the biggest names in fashion wins. Even then, smaller unknown brands are still able to get the same attention without having to spend millions, especially in New York.

I don't know the inner circles of the fashion industry, so I don't know what changes are to be made; but I think the main change should be that designers should be able to do the work they want to do without having to completely bow down to mag editors, and vice versa. *hint hint*

Fashion week should go back to how it was back in the 90's, 80's, 70's, 60's.... basically before the 2000 era; simply because each and every show was a make it or break it, even for the likes of Saint Laurent. Now you see designers being praised for mediocre work only because they're willing to put someone on the first row.

And I don't really get most of the "fashionistas" who attend fashion shows, especially in NY; most of the people invited are practically nobodies in the fashion industry, just a bunch of wannabes who want to tell everyone they've attended a show. It's a waste of money for the designers to be inviting such people.

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05-01-2010
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i've long thought that fashion shows should get pared back to the intimate presentations of decades past. however, fashion shows have gone from simply presenting clothes to the fashion press and retail buyers to establishing a mood for a season, pushing trend forward, and creating brand image. however, we've watched as couture has become this middle season of obligatory shows punctuating awards season, a flood of mens and womens ready-to-wear collections, and pre-fall and resort collections. in between, we have the spectacles of awards shows, the cruise, spring, pre-fall, and fall/winter ad campaigns, and all of the editorials of all of the fashion magazines worldwide. in that context, it does seem like the industry needs to re-calibrate the idea of the fashion show since it's only one of many tools used to achieve the same ends. while rachel zoe will never overtake anna wintour in importance, she certainly holds as much sway as a lesser fashion editor or a startup designer.

if i had my way, many of the most visionary designers would present during couture week -- from balenciaga to rodarte -- and their presentations would be of the season and only presented to the fashion press, retail buyers, and the ardent followers of fashion. during this week, designers should only present their MOST creative ideas which would take time and money to copy -- like azzaro jackets or givenchy strappy sandals. the pre-fall and resort collections would get collapsed into ready to wear: as these collections focus on the sensible basics these brands sell anyway, it wouldn't provide mass market retailers the fodder to copy as rapidly.

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05-01-2010
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^well said.

I think for me, the best decade of shows was the 90's. It was a mix of both commercial ideas but still having the simplistic glamor of past decades. Now designers are either having to resort to overtly boring straightforward shows (like those in NY) or overtly glamorized circus acts (like those in Paris). I think this is why Milan fashion week is my favorite, it still has the essence of subtle glamor without being overtly pretentious or boring.

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05-01-2010
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Thank you so much for all your replies! It's really interesting to hear other people's views on these topics. I gather I'm not the only one itching for a change...
How does everyone feel about seasons? It's pretty weird how they work really so far ahead, like they were pushing themselves further and further back til it got a bit silly
And I also agree with Leeroi in saying that they all focus on a trend so that it's all commercialised. I think I heard that WGSN sell their trend predictions to anyone from Prada to Primark, so they all have a common theme to go on... but this kind of takes away the originality of ideas and creativity doesn't it? I guess there are pros and cons either way I'm just trying to gather as many points as I can for my feature and weigh them up

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05-01-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xbryony View Post
Thank you so much for all your replies! It's really interesting to hear other people's views on these topics. I gather I'm not the only one itching for a change...
How does everyone feel about seasons? It's pretty weird how they work really so far ahead, like they were pushing themselves further and further back til it got a bit silly
And I also agree with Leeroi in saying that they all focus on a trend so that it's all commercialised. I think I heard that WGSN sell their trend predictions to anyone from Prada to Primark, so they all have a common theme to go on... but this kind of takes away the originality of ideas and creativity doesn't it? I guess there are pros and cons either way I'm just trying to gather as many points as I can for my feature and weigh them up
You're right. Back then when people wore Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, or Yves Saint Laurent, people knew from a distance who they were wearing because each designer had different ways of styling, workmanship, and ofcourse overall design. Now designers have succumbed to trends that you'll probably have to look at style.com to see who the designer is that created that specific jacket, dress, or pants since many of them look the same.

Think of it this way; look at the book with focused eyes, the words are all separate and distinguishable; that's the fashion of the past. Now if you look at the same book with crossed-eyes, the words are blurry and interconnected, undistinguishable from one another; that's the fashion of today, but you'll notice that some words still do stand out.... that's Margiela and Alaia for you.

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05-01-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xbryony View Post
...And I also agree with Leeroi in saying that they all focus on a trend so that it's all commercialised. I think I heard that WGSN sell their trend predictions to anyone from Prada to Primark, so they all have a common theme to go on... but this kind of takes away the originality of ideas and creativity doesn't it?
it takes an even-more-creative person to come up with something innovative and groundbreaking within the framework of trend or tradition. if all of fashion reads like poetry, then creating something within trend is like commissioning a famous poet to author a haiku: that is, it makes that artist more creative within that form and not less. whether it's michael kors, versace, or prada, we've seen this play out: while they all clearly got the plastic/lucite/pvc call, they've presented collections so much more creative than their average collections...



also, without having trends dictated to us, it'd be even more difficult to identify those marching to the beat of their own drummers. while i know they may not be the most popular of designers in this blogosphere, would jil sander's latest collection or isabel marant's latest collection or proenza schouler's latest collection stand out so much if they weren't SO decidedly different than those designers who had subscribed to this "futurism" moment provided to them by trend forecasters?



(source for all: style.com)

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Last edited by mikeijames; 05-01-2010 at 04:14 PM.
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06-01-2010
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Fashion is continuously becoming more and more business-driven. There is always less and less creativity involved season after season. It's how humanity works, people (LVMH, Gucci Grp etc) would prefer money over anything else. Thats something we have to deal with.

However, even under these sad and dooming conditions, therein still lies the arguably even bigger challenge of which designer can appear to be the most original/fashion-forward even under such strict business circumstances. The recession has exaggerated these circumstances making them tighter and even more difficult to withstand (as we have seen happen with Phi and Luella and God knows who else).

The economic circumstances of today imo have segregated designers into 2 groups; the group that will pick the obvious option of reducing budgets, cutting expenditures and basically making "cheaper clothes" ie Gucci, Elie Saab (one of the recession's biggest victims) and the majority. Then there's the group that will do the exact opposite: increase the budget on clothes to make more unique and detailed clothes that people will covet and will consider "worth buying".

Overall, I think the industry in time will just seize to exist because circumstances will become tighter and tighter.

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06-01-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squizree View Post
Fashion is continuously becoming more and more business-driven. There is always less and less creativity involved season after season. It's how humanity works, people (LVMH, Gucci Grp etc) would prefer money over anything else. Thats something we have to deal with.

However, even under these sad and dooming conditions, therein still lies the arguably even bigger challenge of which designer can appear to be the most original/fashion-forward even under such strict business circumstances. The recession has exaggerated these circumstances making them tighter and even more difficult to withstand (as we have seen happen with Phi and Luella and God knows who else).

The economic circumstances of today imo have segregated designers into 2 groups; the group that will pick the obvious option of reducing budgets, cutting expenditures and basically making "cheaper clothes" ie Gucci, Elie Saab (one of the recession's biggest victims) and the majority. Then there's the group that will do the exact opposite: increase the budget on clothes to make more unique and detailed clothes that people will covet and will consider "worth buying".

Overall, I think the industry in time will just seize to exist because circumstances will become tighter and tighter.
Indeed, it was only a few years ago that shops that specializes in copying designer clothing didn't exist. Now we have tons of them, from H&M, Topshop, to Forever 21, etc etc.... I think in a few more years, the line between cheap affordable clothes and luxury clothes will dramatically increase with many designers opting to concentrate their time with diffusion lines. We're seeing it now that designers are receiving more revenue from diffusion lines than their more expensive counterparts. But this is natural during recession.

Remember, a few decades ago, people either wore couture/bespoke clothing or common-folk clothing from local shops, especially during the 60's. But slowly, the two became intertwined because of the rise of ready-to-wear. Now, the recession is slowly separating them once again, where people are having to resort to buying cheaper clothing with the same flair of style as those who are willing to pay thousands for trousers.

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06-01-2010
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^ Exactly. In a way the recession is kinda like the business version of natural selection; filtering all the bullsh!t and making sure the survival of the fittest.

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06-01-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squizree View Post
Overall, I think the industry in time will just seize to exist because circumstances will become tighter and tighter.
the industry will never cease to exist. at no point in human history has mankind -- or should i say womankind -- satisfied herself to look just like everyone else. will the fashion industry become more rarefied? absolutely. it already is. but will the industry go away? never. even the big box, mass market retailers keep the industry alive. who do you think so furiously copies the designs at these shops? they're expert designers in their own right. however, it challenges true designers MORE not LESS to come up with something EVEN MORE creative that baffles these copycats. it's just like music: even though it's easy to copy someone's style -- how many artists got away with auto-tune last year? -- it just makes the truly innovative stand out even more. while we may all recognize the latest katy perry ditty, we know that the mgmts and beth dittos and m.i.a.s and others really creating a new sound. it's no different in fashion: it's easy to re-create the ralph lauren look -- let's be honest -- but you won't see those balenciaga dresses re-created on the rack at bcbg anytime soon because it takes our eyes a while to adjust to fashion that innovative.

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06-01-2010
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^ I dunno, I think with enough time money will become more and more the focus and purpose of fashion, stacking new collections together more and more resulting in a much smaller spectrum of style. But we know how something like that can result in a fashion revolution as such.
But you're right, the essential ingredient of keeping fashion alive is the drive for women (and men) to look different and more individual than each other.

PS thanks for the spelling correction for "cease"

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20-01-2010
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Hi just want to thank you guys again for your replies! Very helpful and insightful.
I'm just curious now to focus more on the aspect of celebrities attending the shows and the publicity being more about them - what does everyone feel about this? Positive/negative? Perhaps eliminating them from the shows will have a bad impact on press, but really it shouldn't even be about them.
Also one of my tutors mentioned that he couldn't remember anything about the clothes at Chanel S/S '10, only the huge barn set. Do people agree that this is uneccessary and unfair on newer designers?
Sorry if I'm a bit rambly I'm not entirely clear on which side of the argument I stand so any comments would help greatly.
Thanks again

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20-01-2010
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It's both not unnecessary or unfair. Why should it be unfair towards newer designers? Big brands have more money and more fame, thus they can do extravagant things for their shows. I see no reason why they should limit themselves to even out the playing field. There are always designers who have it better or worse out there, it's part of the job. Once a small designer gets big and has the money, they can build crazy sets as well.
And it's necessary for the brand to get their thoughts behind the collection across, of course it's also completely for show and extravagance but if they didn't deem it necessary than they probably would've used the money for something else.

And to make a remark about the fact that designers focus on trends, isn't that the whole idea of collections and fashion shows, to show the latest trends? And trends are never brand-related, so it's only logical that many brands share the same trends. It also doesn't limit their creativity, trends aren't set in stone, they can be twisted, turned and played with to suit ones own interpretation.

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20-01-2010
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xbryony -- do you read luxirare? (blog/designer/etc). her "about" or "concept" section or something is about this and i think might be a good example of someone trying to continuously create + promote themselves without revolving around seasons, fashion shows, and production of specific lines.

i think industry-wise unless there's some huge revolution, the conept of seaons etc will continue -- just because so much revolves around it -- but i do think that smaller and more independent/younger/etc designers will use the internet more and focus on newer channels of promotion, communication, and distribution.

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